Lack of alignment in an organization causes frustration and slows execution to a crawl. Cross business unit teams with dependencies can cause even greater difficulty in alignment to an organization’s objectives and initiatives. Many frameworks assume that Enterprise Agility is simply Kanban or Scrum scaled across the organization with a communication mechanism added for communicating organizational dependencies.
While one might agree that work is work no matter the skillset, they would also agree that they wouldn’t dig a hole using a hammer. The same is true of Enterprise Agility versus Delivery Agility. Although the underlying principles may be the same, some of the practices are different. To truly benefit from the Agile mindset, we also need to incorporate principles of Lean.
Agility is commonly misunderstood as a replacement for Agile Delivery/Project Management. However, with this lens an organization will not realize the full benefits of a transformation. Instead, Lean Agile principles should be applied to the entire organization or enterprise to find the organizational structure and cultural support that eliminates dependencies between working groups and aligns the entire enterprise to deliver the right value every time.
Let’s explore some of the differences in the way that Lean Agile is different for the Enterprise than for Delivery/Project Management.
Value in the Delivery/Project world is very focused on what will help a customer today. Enterprise Agility creates a focus on the value of work at a higher level – considering things like total cost of ownership and long-term strategy. With Enterprise Agility, there needs to be a balance between what is valuable to the Customer, the Business and to Stakeholders. This balance is much more difficult than identifying what the value is directly to a paying customer, because there are so many more “voices” of the customer.
Once Customer, Business and Stakeholder value have been identified the organizational structure and culture can begin to take shape. This starts with Value Stream Mapping for both external and internal customers. Using this Value Stream Mapping exercise, the organization can begin to align the Organizational or Business Capabilities (cross-functional people, processes and tools), necessary to achieve the desired value and outcome.
Flow comes from Systems thinking and defines a continuous or sustainable stream of work or demand. Agility Program Management practices are focused on the efficient flow of work from strategic planning to completion. However, the Lean Agile approach to Business Agility is about the flow determined by the demand of customer (internal or external). Organizational Structure, Culture and Capabilities are all part of the enterprise system and affect the flow at this level.
For manufacturing firms, pull equates to just-in-time order fulfillment which reduces waste. Pull when combined with Agility for development of innovative products and services has more to do with capacity to meet the demand. In other words, teams pull work from the flow based upon appropriate prioritization and sequencing according to their available capacity. This gives the organization a clear picture of their true capacity.
Seeking perfection requires relentless continuous improvement that is embedded into the cultural fabric of an Organization. Continuous Improvement should not just be tolerated, but energetically enabled to get the true benefits. Perfection cannot apply only to one area of the organization, but must be applied to the organization overall.
By applying principles of Lean to your Business Agility Transformation, your organization will receive the full benefit of transformation. The journey to Enterprise Transformation requires a strategic partner. Trissential/SQS has the skills and capabilities to assist you on this journey.
Bryce Arii is Senior Essentialist at Trissential..